Kansas City area residents who protested President Donald Trump’s nomination of Andy Puzder to be U.S. secretary of labor said Wednesday that their recent rallies achieved part of their goal when his name was withdrawn from consideration.
“This is definitely a victory for workers,” said Bridget Hughes, who has participated in Stand Up KC rallies against Puzder. “It shows the power we have when we stand together and work for all Americans.”
Puzder, CEO of a restaurant company that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., had been barraged with criticism from organizations representing low-wage workers, organized labor, and faith leaders who charged that he didn’t have workers’ best interests at heart. Trump at one point received a letter from 135 such groups, urging him to consider someone else.
Since Puzder’s nomination was announced, thousands of opponents had marched, chanted and waved signs in cities around the country, including at the Hardee’s headquarters in St. Louis. Several hundred of them had staged protests in front of Kansas City area Hardee’s restaurants.
But Hughes, who works at a Burger King restaurant, said Stand Up KC “will definitely continue to fight — to let Trump know that whoever he nominates next we want to be someone who will support $15 an hour and protect workers’ rights, not consistently violate them.”
Puzder was on record as against minimum wage increases. Workers had complained against overtime law violations, harassment and other labor law violations at his restaurants.
“We are absolutely delighted,” said Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2, an interfaith social justice organization. “He did not represent anything consistent with what we’re about. Our attitude is that we will work with anyone for greater racial and economic equity.”
Although the National Retail Federation and the International Franchise Association said Puzder’s withdrawal was unfortunate, multiple organizations representing workers quickly issued press releases that echoed Hughes’ remarks, saying said it was time to nominate someone who would honor U.S. labor laws and protect workers.
Fran Marion, who works at a Popeye’s restaurant, said she’d participated in all the Kansas City rallies.
“I think our activism contributed a great deal” to Puzder’s withdrawal, Marion said. “We sent a strong message that the working people need to be heard. We need a candidate who speaks for working class people, not against us.”